SPEAKER ON THE CARPET … Minority Accuse Doe Adjaho Of Double Standards

The Minority NPP Caucus in Parliament has accused the Speaker, Doe Adjaho, of hypocrisy and also compromising on his integrity after refusing to allow the House to probe the sale of the controversial Merchant Bank to Fortiz Private Equity Fund.

Speaking at a news conference in Accra yesterday, the minority argued that the  ruling, which shot down their request for a probe into the sale, was long prepared even before the House sat on the matter, since it did not factor the views they raised.

‘It took the Rt. Hon. Speaker 15 minutes to read a ruling in which he cited many authorities and which he alleges to have researched and written in one hour. A ruling will usually take into consideration the views expressed by parties in a matter.

‘It is significant to note that the ruling from Rt. Hon. Doe Adjaho represented just one side of the equation. Clearly, that ruling had been prepared before Parliament sat that fateful Monday,’ noted the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who read the press statement on behalf of the minority group.

Buttressing his argument further, he said it was untenable to have seen the Majority NDC Caucus organizing a press conference moments after the House adjourned ‘sine die’ and read a prepared script to state their position on the matter.

‘The time read exactly 3:30 p.m. when Mr. Speaker adjourned the House ‘sine die’. Ten minutes after that, the NDC majority engaged the media to address them. They read a prepared text, the opening statement of which read: ‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media’. Good morning at 3:30 p.m.?, he quizzed, adding ‘what further evidence one need to establish that there was a well-rehearsed conspiracy to prevent the motion from being moved, whilst yet pretending to encourage the Leadership of both the Majority and Minority to find common ground, as happened last Monday?’

Furthering their argument, the minority accused the Speaker of inconsistency in his rulings in the House, especially when he had in an earlier occasion insisted that Parliament was a master of its own procedures, but now running away from his own pronouncement.

Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho on Monday, this week, shot down a Private Members’ motion moved by the Member of Parliament for Bimbila, Dominic Nitiwul, asking Parliament to investigate the acquisition of Merchant Bank by Fortiz Fund Limited.

The Speaker, guided by the rulings of some of his predecessors, especially the late Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey, under Order 93(1) of the Standing Orders of the House, coupled with authorities from other jurisdictions, especially that of the United Kingdom’s House of Commons, said his decision to quash  the Private Members` motion was purposefully based on the fact that a discussion on the matter on the floor of the House will prejudice the parties involved in the case, which was currently before the court.

The Private Members’ motion, which had over eighty signatories, notably from the Minority NPP MPs, had sought to find out what had occasioned the sale of Merchant Bank Limited, which won the best bank award in 2007, coupled with several others to Fortiz Equity Fund Limited, a wholly Ghanaian firm, with no track record in the banking industry.

They sought to invite the Governor of the Bank of Ghana and the Chairman of SSNIT to appear before the House to answer to questions pertaining to the said deal.

The members had stated in their petition that the sale and acquisition of the bank was of urgent public importance, hence the need for Parliament to investigate the said transaction.

But the Speaker, sensing that the request when granted, would prejudice the parties involved in the matter, quashed the motion and urged the House to explore other avenues of addressing the issue.

However, the Minority Leader believes the Speaker could have done himself good if he had towed to the same line in his earlier rulings when he was the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament on matters bordering on Order 93(1) of the Standing Orders of the House. Order 93(1) of the Standing Orders of the House reads: ‘Reference shall not be made to any matter on which judicial decision is pending in such a way as may, in the opinion of Mr. Speaker, prejudice the interest of parties to the action.’

The Minority said Rt. Hon. Doe Adjaho in 2009, as the then First Deputy Speaker and, by virtue of that office, Chairman of the Appointments Committee in the matter involving Hon. Mumuni who had been nominated as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and who had a case pending in court, ruled that Parliament is an independent arm of government and the pendency of a case in court should not be a bar on the conduct of business in Parliament.

Such ruling, he noted, followed after he (Minority Leader) had, among other things, reminded him of a ruling by Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey. ‘Again, in late 2012, when the Electoral Commission determined to create additional constituencies, a citizen took the matter to court, and the process was served on Parliament.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker Doe Adjaho, who was the First Deputy Speaker then, again indicated that Parliament cannot allow itself to be gagged by what happens in court and he reminded members that Parliament is master of its own procedures.

Accordingly, he presided over the majority decision to create 45 additional constituencies, whilst the case was being heard in court. Today, the same Speaker rules that if a case is pending in court it cannot be debated in Parliament.

Consistency and integrity are essential components of good governance as they ensure predictability. Shifting the goal post as and when one pleases will not grow Parliament,’ he stressed.

Commenting further, Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu accused the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) of having a manifest interest in the sale of Merchant Bank, since they had attempted to stall the debate on the motion to investigate the sale of the bank to Fortiz Private Equity Fund by stating that matter was not to be treated as an urgent motion.

“The majority NDC finds nothing wrong with the Merchant Bank-Fortiz transaction. They indeed praised the deal to high heavens in their press conference,’ he noted.

According to the minority, even if nobody, especially those in the NDC would not bear with them to investigate the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Private Equity Fund, they would launch their own investigations into the matter to ensure there is value for money in the said transaction.

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